Form & Fitness Q & A
Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include as much information about yourself as possible, including your age, sex, and type of racing or riding. Due to the volume of questions we receive, we regret that we are unable to answer them all.
Carrie Cheadle, MA (www.carriecheadle.com) is a Sports Psychology consultant who has dedicated her career to helping athletes of all ages and abilities perform to their potential. Carrie specialises in working with cyclists, in disciplines ranging from track racing to mountain biking. She holds a bachelors degree in Psychology from Sonoma State University as well as a masters degree in Sport Psychology from John F. Kennedy University.
Dave Palese (www.davepalese.com) is a USA Cycling licensed coach and masters' class road racer with 16 years' race experience. He coaches racers and riders of all abilities from his home in southern Maine, USA, where he lives with his wife Sheryl, daughter Molly, and two cats, Miranda and Mu-Mu.
Kelby Bethards, MD received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University (1994) before obtaining an M.D. from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 2000. Has been a racing cyclist 'on and off' for 20 years, and when time allows, he races Cat 3 and 35+. He is a team physician for two local Ft Collins, CO, teams, and currently works Family Practice in multiple settings: rural, urgent care, inpatient and the like.
Fiona Lockhart (www.trainright.com) is a USA Cycling Expert Coach, and holds certifications from USA Weightlifting (Sports Performance Coach), the National Strength and Conditioning Association (Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach), and the National Academy for Sports Nutrition (Primary Sports Nutritionist). She is the Sports Science Editor for Carmichael Training Systems, and has been working in the strength and conditioning and endurance sports fields for over 10 years; she's also a competitive mountain biker.
Eddie Monnier (www.velo-fit.com) is a USA Cycling certified Elite Coach and a Category II racer. He holds undergraduate degrees in anthropology (with departmental honors) and philosophy from Emory University and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business.
Eddie is a proponent of training with power. He coaches cyclists (track, road and mountain bike) of all abilities and with wide ranging goals (with and without power meters). He uses internet tools to coach riders from any geography.
David Fleckenstein, MPT (www.physiopt.com) is a physical therapist practicing in Boise, ID. His clients have included World and U.S. champions, Olympic athletes and numerous professional athletes. He received his B.S. in Biology/Genetics from Penn State and his Master's degree in Physical Therapy from Emory University. He specializes in manual medicine treatment and specific retraining of spine and joint stabilization musculature. He is a former Cat I road racer and Expert mountain biker.
Since 1986 Steve Hogg (www.cyclefitcentre.com) has owned and operated Pedal Pushers, a cycle shop specialising in rider positioning and custom bicycles. In that time he has positioned riders from all cycling disciplines and of all levels of ability with every concievable cycling problem.They include World and National champions at one end of the performance spectrum to amputees and people with disabilities at the other end.
Current riders that Steve has positioned include Davitamon-Lotto's Nick Gates, Discovery's Hayden Roulston, National Road Series champion, Jessica Ridder and National and State Time Trial champion, Peter Milostic.
Pamela Hinton has a bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology and a doctoral degree in Nutritional Sciences, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She did postdoctoral training at Cornell University and is now an assistant professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studies the effects of iron deficiency on adaptations to endurance training and the consequences of exercise-associated changes in menstrual function on bone health.
Pam was an All-American in track while at the UW. She started cycling competitively in 2003 and is the defending Missouri State Road Champion. Pam writes a nutrition column for Giana Roberge's Team Speed Queen Newsletter.
Dario Fredrick (www.wholeathlete.com) is an exercise physiologist and head coach for Whole Athlete™. He is a former category 1 & semi-pro MTB racer. Dario holds a masters degree in exercise science and a bachelors in sport psychology.
Scott Saifer (www.wenzelcoaching.com) has a Masters Degree in exercise physiology and sports psychology and has personally coached over 300 athletes of all levels in his 10 years of coaching with Wenzel Coaching.
Kendra Wenzel (www.wenzelcoaching.com) is a head coach with Wenzel Coaching with 17 years of racing and coaching experience and is coauthor of the book Bike Racing 101.
Steve Owens (www.coloradopremiertraining.com) is a USA Cycling certified coach, exercise physiologist and owner of Colorado Premier Training. Steve has worked with both the United States Olympic Committee and Guatemalan Olympic Committee as an Exercise Physiologist. He holds a B.S. in Exercise & Sports Science and currently works with multiple national champions, professionals and World Cup level cyclists.
Through his highly customized online training format, Steve and his handpicked team of coaches at Colorado Premier Training work with cyclists and multisport athletes around the world.
Brett Aitken (www.cycle2max.com) is a Sydney Olympic gold medalist. Born in Adelaide, Australia in 1971, Brett got into cycling through the cult sport of cycle speedway before crossing over into road and track racing. Since winning Olympic gold in the Madison with Scott McGrory, Brett has been working on his coaching business and his www.cycle2max.com website.
Richard Stern (www.cyclecoach.com) is Head Coach of Richard Stern Training, a Level 3 Coach with the Association of British Cycling Coaches, a Sports Scientist, and a writer. He has been professionally coaching cyclists and triathletes since 1998 at all levels from professional to recreational. He is a leading expert in coaching with power output and all power meters. Richard has been a competitive cyclist for 20 years
Andy Bloomer (www.cyclecoach.com) is an Associate Coach and sport scientist with Richard Stern Training. He is a member of the Association of British Cycling Coaches (ABCC) and a member of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES). In his role as Exercise Physiologist at Staffordshire University Sports Performance Centre, he has conducted physiological testing and offered training and coaching advice to athletes from all sports for the past 4 years. Andy has been a competitive cyclist for many years.
Michael Smartt (www.cyclecoach.com) is an Associate Coach with Richard Stern Training. He holds a Masters degree in exercise physiology and is USA Cycling Expert Coach. Michael has been a competitive cyclist for over 10 years and has experience coaching road and off-road cyclists, triathletes and Paralympians.
Kim Morrow (www.elitefitcoach.com) has competed as a Professional Cyclist and Triathlete, is a certified USA Cycling Elite Coach, a 4-time U.S. Masters National Road Race Champion, and a Fitness Professional.
Her coaching group, eliteFITcoach, is based out of the Southeastern United States, although they coach athletes across North America. Kim also owns MyEnduranceCoach.com, a resource for cyclists, multisport athletes & endurance coaches around the globe, specializing in helping cycling and multisport athletes find a coach.
Advice presented in Cyclingnews' fitness pages is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice for individual athletes. If you follow the educational information found on Cyclingnews, you do so at your own risk. You should consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program.
I have recently been training for the team pursuit, but am finding in the last few laps I am just running out of legs so to speak. Would you advocate more interval training, or more endurance as I am wanting to start training for the individual pursuit. Any advice would be gratefully received.
Scott Saifer replies:
What sort of training I would recommend depends very much on when your target events are coming up.
If they are in the next few weeks and you are the weak member of the team, the best thing you can do is work with your team-mates to figure out a pacing strategy that lets you do your bit for the team and get dropped. If you are not the weakest member, your team needs to slow down just enough that you can finish.
If the events are in the next couple of months, then intervals at race pace will help.
If you are working towards a future season, more base, followed by more intervals will help.
I am a 48 year old female who races on the road and track. I am 5ft 4in and weigh 135 lbs. I have been riding for over 20 years. In the last 5 years I have been battling a sharp pain on the low outside of my left knee. This has been one of those on going issues I have had to deal with at the beginning of the season. It eases off over the year but never really goes away.
I'll include a bit of a medical history. About 15 years ago I fractured my pelvis in 3 places in a crash. Approximately 10 years ago I had a series of 3 injections in my back to deal with L4-L5 disc issue and the left side leg weakening sciatica which accompanied it. 3 years ago I had a very serious fall at the track resulting in a free fall landing on my backside. I have had PT and Chiropractic therapy to correct a tilted and rotated pelvis....probably dating back to the fractured pelvis. Yep, I am an old war horse!
This off season I took over 2 months off the bike. Starting this year the pain is back with a vengeance and feels like someone is stabbing the outside of the knee with an ice pick. The pain can start as early as 15 miles into the ride. I have worked on the premise it is ITB tightness. I trigger point, compress on a closed cell foam roller and stretch the IT and the quads......all of which hurt like hell. I would say I am flexible in my back since I can easily bend in half. My inner thigh muscles are not as flexible but I do yoga/stretching at least 2-3 times a week. My quads also seem flexible since my heel can touch my butt when stretched.
I did get a new bike and the brain trust looked into changing the position a bit. I am now 1cm higher and a bit more forward of my old position. I read with interest your comments, on your website, about foot positioning for women being 5-10 mm farther forward. I wonder how much lower the saddle would need to go to facilitate this? I suppose you would encourage I do the "hands off" test, yes?
Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.
Steve Hogg replies:
If you are going to move your cleats back, there may be implications for seat height but rarely are they more than a few mm. Occasionally more. Sometimes a change of cleat positioning will dramatically alter a riders pedalling technique and as a consequence the seat height change, either up or down may be larger than a few mm.
Re the pain, something is not working symmetrically and you have had enough injuries for me not to want to waste time speculating about the endless possibilities. Let me ask you a few questions:
1. Does the left knee waver at the top of the pedal stroke?
2. With the changes in seat height and setback, is the severity of the pain better, worse or no different?
3. What changes over a season for the severity of the pain to diminish as you describe?
4. Go for a ride until the pain starts to come on. Once you feel the onset, count 50 pedal strokes with your left leg descending. Does this make the pain better, worse or no different?
Get back to me with those answers and we'll proceed from there.
I'ma 37-year-old female, 5ft 5in tall. I ride 3-4,000km per season, trainer in winter, this coming season will be my first race season.
Can you explain to me how to set my fore and aft position in accordance with my femur: tibia ratio?
I've been riding a 52" Cannondale R800 but have recently been thinking that the seat is possibly too far back the reach too long. The measurements are:
Seat - headset 667mm
bb - headset 751mm
seat - bb 647mm
seat - bb 46mm
(100mm stem and a San Marco seat.)
Two reasons I'm asking :
I injured a tendon in my knee last July by raising the seat too high (lack of knowledge), and the other is, in my pursuit of fixing this now on-going problem I've been trying other bikes (last resort) and a trek women's specific 51" frame felt great. I felt "centered" and solid in the hips, although all the info I could find said that according to my proportions I should be riding a bike with a longer top tube. It seems like the fore/aft position must be more important than the top tube reach which can merely be set later with a longer stem. I've shortened up the Cann. as much as possible (seat post, stem, handlebars) and can go no further.
The specs on the Trek were hugely different than those on my Cannondale. I took it home from the shop to ride the trainer, 40 min. with no knee pain. Normally the sensation/pain is experienced on the forward-down part of the rotation.
seat - heatset 610mm
bb - headset 735mm
seat - bb 674mm
seat - bb 10mm
100mm stem, my San Marco seat, my own pedals
Steve Hogg replies:
I don't place much faith in measurement based systems of rider positioning so don't get too hung up on what someone says that your body proportions dictate. What is more important is how you function which is not the same thing as how you measure. Equally, in my view your femur/tibia ratio is part of a positional picture but not something definitive. By this I mean that other factors can/will override any implications of this.
Regarding the problem you pose. You felt great on the Trek WSD 51cm but not as good on your R800 Cannondale 52cm. What I can do is compare the frame dimensions of the two and tell you what you would need to do in part.
Firstly, what are your chances of going back to the shop and asking them for a fee to set up your Cannondale to mimic the Trek that they had on the floor?
The general implications are as follows. You don't mention which model Trek and there are two WSD families with slightly different geometry.
Trek 5200 WSD 51cm; seat tube angle 74.5 degrees; top tube length 505mm
Trek 2200/1500 WSD 51cm; seat tube angle 74.0 degrees top tube length 506mm
Cannondale R800 52cm; seat tube angle 74.0 degrees; top tube length 535mm
As you can see, all three have similar seat tube angles but the Cannondale has a substantially longer top tube. You are currently using a 100mm stem on the Cannondale. Once you have positioned the seat of the Cannondale to be the same as the Trek, and assuming the Trek is also using a 100mm stem, then the Cannondale stem must be shortened by 35mm if it was the 5200 that you rode or 30mm if it was the 2200/1500 that you rode. If the Trek had a longer or shorter stem than your Cannondale then that difference must be factored in as well. Additionally, there are the potential for different seats and shape and reach of the bars to account for.
Because of this, I feel the simplest way to solve your problem given that it did not arise on the Trek is to ( if you are not buying one) is to return to the shop and have them position your Cannondale so that it mimics the Trek. To do that, they will have to change your seat and bar to the same as the Trek so that there are no variables and shorten your stem as well. If you are using conventional 26.0mm bars, then road stems are available as short as 50mm so this should not be a problem. If you are using an oversize 31.7/8 mm bar, then the shortest that I have seen is 80mm but downhill stems in the same clamp diameter will work and come in shorter lengths than 80mm.
Last week Steve Hogg asked Jake how much he'd packed out he spacers under his cleats. Jake responded:
I have recently packed up the right cleat, first just 5mm and now approximately 8mm. That seems to have helped a great deal, so I plan on using a Look cleat as per an old response of yours in order to shim (almost) the entire 1.1 cm. I haven't yet enlisted an observer as you suggested, but just from my own observations I do in fact rotate my pelvis down and forward. Upon reading more from the archives, I saw a number of references to "building up" or "twisting" the seat in order to account for pelvis function. If my pelvis drops down/rotates on the right side (presumably in reaction to my shorter right leg), would packing the cleat with 1 cm spacer take care of this or should I look into twisting or building up the seat?
Also, with respect to KOPS, am I to take it that this would have absolutely no bearing on my knee pain, and I should look into comfort, not "fighting the bike," and ensuring that power is coming from my hips (as well as trying the hands-off-the-bars test you suggested in the archives)? In any event, I appreciate the assistance...thanks again.
Steve Hogg replies:
By all means play with the size of the shim under the shoe. Once you find what is most effective, don't be surprised if it is more, less or the same as the measurable discrepancy. Other compensatory factors can play a big part on this so decide on shim size by what feels most even and natural.
Twisting the seat slightly off centre can help but it is not a solution. Where there is a situation where a rider not only drops the hip but sits twisted forward on the same side as well, twisting the seat can improve pelvic symmetry but rarely achieve it. If you try it, point the seat nose slightly to the right in your case but I wouldn't bother until you have solved the following problem.
You need to ascertain whether the right hip drop is a consequence of the shorter leg alone or whether it is in part at least caused by other factors. The only way to tell is to shim up the right cleat until you feel solid on both pedals and have a feeling of evenness in the legs when pedalling. Move the cleat on the right side further back relative to foot in shoe than the cleat on the right side. 2- 3 mm should be enough. Otherwise the packer will make you feel less stable on the pedal on the right side. Once you have a shim that you consider to be about right, then get your observer to tell you whether you are square on the seat or not. If you are not, you need to find out why not.
You could be tighter in the hips/lower back than on the other side etc, etc. If that is found to be the case, then address those issues until you are as functionally symmetrical as you are likely to be.